It seems like the ultimate struggle in life is balancing it! Honestly, how can we balance our lives without pulling our hair out? From work responsibilities, house chores, caring for our elderly relatives, parenting our children, being involved in our church and/or community to maintaining our relationships, we have more than enough tasks to occupy every hour of the day without any breaks. God forbid we neglect our health or hygiene along the way! Why does a mother feel like she has to be the Pinterest Queen of all things Martha Stewart, the Supermodel to keep the eyes of her husband, the Rachel Ray in her kitchen because the family gets bored with the same meals, and a walking Google search engine, since we’re expected to know and do everything at home? It’s absurd! We’re inundated with so many responsibilities and we’re pulled in multiple directions. To add to the madness, our society pressures us to look and be a certain way. We experience pressures of being successful, always giving the perception we have everything put-together, appearing prosperous, and ultimately achieving the American dream. There’s judgments about how we do everything! It’s like there’s this vehement water current rushing at you without any mercy. You feel inclined to flow with it, but you’re losing ground and sinking seems inevitable. If you stop, you’ll be overwhelmed by waves and drown. No wonder we deal with such immense emotions of indecision and worry. We feel empty, exhausted, and drained! What can we do? How do we balance everything?
What I love about God is how much he cares and loves us. He takes pleasure being involved in every area of our lives. Like a loving Father, He desires to come to our aid no matter how minuscule the task may seem to us. One of my favorite scriptures is Prov. 11: 1. It says, “A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, But a just weight is His delight.” It truly grieves God when our lives are out of balance. He hates to see us worried, stressed out, and feeling overwhelmed. He never created us to carry all those worries on our shoulders, in our minds or in our hearts. God knows it will literally destroy us. So He tells us to cast our cares to Him (1 Peter 5:7). He wants to take care of every worry we have and help us with our responsibilities. It brings Him joy ! He knows life can make you weary, worn and tired. That is why Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT): “…Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
I used to amuse myself with the idea of moving to a rural area thinking I could escape all my pressures. I thought if only I could move, I wouldn’t feel the pressures of my “fast paced” lifestyle. I often dreamed of how simple life could be in a country-home. The reality is no matter where I go, I will have responsibilities that I cannot escape. No countryside can eliminate the duties of mother, wife or friend. Balance has nothing to do with where we are. Even though I may feel out of control in my life at times, I am the captain of my ship. I can change! I can make new habits and break old ones. I can re-prioritize and set goals. I can stop relying on my temporary fixes and I can choose to live a stress-free life! A weekend away in some serene location, a night out with the girls, deep pressure massages or even quiet golf games; though all those things are incredible, they only give us temporary relief. We wake up the next morning with all those burdens and thoughts of exhaustion staring at us in the face.
How do I recharge and get everything in balance?
The first thing we need to do when we’re overwhelmed with responsibilities or anytime we feel pressures piling on is…Give them to God! The moment they rise up we must cast them to God in prayer. Believe me, God can handle them! And much better than we ever could, I might add. So, go ahead and forcefully throw your cares to Him. Scream your worries out to God, cry them out, whisper them out, or however you like. Just let him figure it all out for you and trust Him in the process.
I’ve been guilty of trying to work it out all on my own. Seeking my own strategies or creating my own plans only to have dead ends or work harder than I would have liked. Psalm 127:1 says, “… Unless the LORD builds the house, they labour in vain that build it…” I was using all my energy in vain. It was wasted tears, sweat and time. Why didn’t I just hand over my stress and responsibilities to the only one who knows all and sees all. He has my best interest in mind! I’m so glad God never gives up on me.
Secondly, allow God to refresh, renew, replenish, and restore you! The best way this can happen is in God’s presence. Take a moment (even in a bathroom, if that’s all you have) and ask Him to recharge you. Isaiah 40:29-31 says, ” He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.30 Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. 31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” The beautiful thing is all we have to do is ask! Ask Him for strength and trust that He will provide it!
If you are really in need of refreshment, I encourage you to worship Him! Put on some worship music and meditate on Him. Embrace a spirit of gratefulness and thanksgiving. I know it may feel like you don’t have time to do it, especially because we’ve ingrained in our minds that we’re only moving forward when we’re addressing the problem. To stop and take the time to worship feels like we’re going against our composition, our makeup, our nature. Still the truth is like what my Pastor says, “Anytime in God’s presence is never wasted time!” You can never enter the presence of God without leaving changed, renewed and refreshed!
Thirdly, seek God’s direction. Matthew 6:33-34 puts it very plainly: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (God’s way of doing things), and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” By seeking God’s direction, it allows Him to intervene, guide you and bring discernment. Jeremiah 10:23 tells us we are not made to chart our own course. We need God’s divine direction. Several scriptures further tell us there are ways that seem right in our minds but the end can lead us to a dark path. I can’t tell you how many times I thought something was a “sure thing” and it ended up costing me more than just heartache. Let’s save ourselves from having to learn the hard way! Ask the one who knows all and is more than willing to give us tips on how to make life easier.
Lastly, now that you have a greater sensitivity to the voice of God, plan! Create a vision, set goals, prioritize and focus. Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” For years I struggled with trying to achieve or accomplish certain goals of mine. Finally I felt inclined by God to restrategize the way I was attacking my task list. It’s been a huge awakening for me. I’ve accomplished so many of my day-to-day tasks as well as taking big steps toward my dreams. If we permit God to oversee our plans we’ll find the success we all desire, without the stress.
Every time I include God in my planning, I feel as if I discovered “life hacks.” He gives me the best ideas! For example, I find my devotion time very important and with two toddlers, it can seem impossible to have that time. But I’ve learned by having them participate in my devotion time, rather than struggling to separate it from them, we all get encouraged and learn something.
In regards to my marriage, my husband and I have learned we have to schedule in our date nights. Some may think like we lose some of the romance from the loss of spontaneity, but I applaud all those that can spontaneously find a trustworthy babysitter. What is more important to us is having these nights (1-2 times a month) than not having them at all. Rather than brushing it off or hoping a Friday night will avail itself, we plan for them!
Another relatively new idea God gave my husband and I is what we call our “Family Focus.” We both had our laundry lists of things we want to do and accomplish but we were never getting much of them done – that is until we felt led by God to have a nightly focus. More than a “Friday Family Fun” night, we have a “Tuesday Tunes, Toning & Trash” night where we workout as a family, spend some time in praise, worship or play musical instruments and my husband takes out the trash. Mondays are called our “Mommy and Momentum” Nights, where we focus on the tasks we need to accomplish in the week and I get a couple of hours to myself. We don’t always have perfect weeks and we know we must leave some room for flexibility. Still, such a simple focus has helped us move forward in our goals and complete our responsibilities!
Honestly, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all when it comes to planning our lives. What works for me might not work for you. One more reason why consulting God, our maker, for witty ways on how to address our responsibilities will prove useful. Guaranteed you’ll find yourself more productive. Keep in mind this teaching found in Luke 14:28-30 “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?29 Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. 30 They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’
We can never simply hope and wish our dreams will accomplish themselves. They do take hard work and dedication. Anytime we want to achieve a desired result it needs to start with a plan. Count up your costs! Don’t allow yourself to be frustrated with all the things you didn’t accomplish in the day if you were unrealistic with your time frames; or never asked anyone to help you. Organizing your time wisely is something you’ll find liberating! When it’s done effectively you’ll save more time and be relieved that you did.
How do I maintain a balanced life?
Life is full of unexpected events but it doesn’t mean we need to be thrown off kilt at every unexpected occurrence that arises. Like the scripture referenced earlier (Matt 6:33), if we keep God first in our lives we’ll have all the other things in our lives taken care of. It’s God’s promise and He doesn’t lie.
I don’t want to belittle the emotions or burdens you are carrying. I know that they are real and often feel enormously heavy. All of this is proof to show we need a God to take the heavy loads. It’s not always easy but if you strengthen your spirit, in turn you will strengthen your body and overall well-being (3 John 2). In fact the more you put into caring for your spirit man (and soul), the more you’ll see all other areas of your life improve. Don’t neglect your spirit and soul. It’s the key to maintaining a balanced life. Changes will come but keeping your soul in God’s hands will help you ride the storms of this life.
The last thing I want to add toward maintaining a balanced life is the importance of relationships. God made us relational beings and our companions are our checks and balances. Value the friendships in your life that push you to be a better version of yourself. They see your potential. They’ll help clean you up when you fall and they’ll push you to do better when you want to give up. We need someone in our lives who will tell us the truth. They’ll expose the chaos we try to cover up and help us get it right. Proverbs 12:26 (NLT) says,”The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.” Surround yourself with good friends and cherish their criticism.
A prayer for all those feeling weighted down and stressed…“Father in the name of Jesus, I pray for all those reading this blog that are feeling exhausted from the cares of this life. You told us to come to you when we are overburdened. So, here we are God. We cast every one of our burdens, weights, and responsibilities upon you. Now cause us to rest and be refreshed. Revive and sustain us oh God. I come against the spirit of weariness and confusion. By the authority of Jesus’ name, I cancel all of its efforts to kill, steal or destroy all those reading this blog. God said your yoke is easy and your burden is light. You know us well, more than anyone. You know our capabilities and limits. Where we have added to our daily load that is not of you, I pray you remove. In regards to the weights in our lives that are assigned by you, help us to manage them. We need your grace, wisdom and Spirit to live this life. We seek your divine guidance God, in how to plan, prioritize and focus on the appropriate tasks in our everyday lives. Teach us to find rest throughout the day! Thank you for your help, for hope and a renewed spirit! In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
How do you manage all the stress in your life? What do you do to stay balanced? Can you share any recent “life hacks” you’ve used that have made your tasks simpler?